From the new democratic wave to the resurgence of the radical right

Remember what the world looked like in the immediate aftermath of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis? In 2010 and 2011, massive protests erupted in Greece, Spain and Portugal. We had the Arab Spring. In America we had the Occupy Movement.

In Iceland, citizens drafted their own constitution, the first such constitution in the history of the world. New parties have emerged - Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, M5S in Italy, the Pirate Movement across several European countries.

Wikileaks was wreaking havoc with reports on torture at Guantanamo and later on surveillance of citizens, or on the alliance between the American power structures and Wall Street against Occupy.

You didn't necessarily have to agree with every detail, but the direction was promising: more democracy, more inclusion, less authoritarianism. A huge wave of creativity and novelty, of democratic experimentation, of new organizational models. Everything seemed to be leading to a freer, more open and innovative society, with citizens better integrated into the body politic.

It seemed as if we were dealing with a new 1848 or 1968-type wave. The buzzwords were deliberative democracy, wiki-governance, participatory budgeting, inclusiveness, horizontal organisation (networks versus hierarchies).

Gradually, the tide was turned. Syriza won the elections and then died, Podemos became a parliamentary party and went quiet, M5S turned into a nightmare combining populism with Euroscepticism and conspiracy theories, flirting ever more blatantly with far-right ideas, the German Pirates entered the parliaments of several Länder and then imploded.

In the Middle East, the Arab Spring has turned into a winter from which no one knows how we will emerge. As for Wikileaks, the philosophy of its creator made it possible for the site to be used by Russia to interfere in the US election campaign, which has deeply discredited it.

The old anti-capitalist left, frustrated that for decades the people have been ignoring it at the ballot box, has also begun to boycott the wave, presenting it as proof of its own ignored greatness. Former communist parties transformed into environmentalist (or 'true left') parties have woken up from their lethargy and started to gather strength.

That's how Die Linke became a significant party in Germany, or the Left-Green Alliance on the rise in Iceland, at the expense of the Pirate Party, which seemed likely to become the biggest party in the country. In Spain, Izquierda Unida has been doing better and better in elections since 2013, the Greek Communists are also rising in the polls, and so on.

The last relatively respectable figure at the intersection of the new wave and the old left was Bernie Sanders. He was still a vote-getter, because something of the Occupy Movement was still there. Of the unfashionable ones, awakened from lethargy after 20-30 years, Sanders was the most tolerable. But Jeremy Corbyn's Labour victory was a clear sign that the old left had killed the new wave.

Worse, the populist right has started to get stronger. Gradually, inclusion and innovation have been replaced by exclusion and tradition. Like the old left, the new populist right appealed to the past, coming dangerously close to fascist rhetoric. And the appeal of the new populist right has become more convincing than that of the old left. Together, these two forces completely destroyed the new wave of 2010-2011, and the new populist right took the prize.

New Right parties are on the rise all over Europe. We have practically a revival of the radical and extreme right, unimaginable 10 years ago. We've already had Brexit and Trump, and the fascists have formed the Italian government for the first time since WWII. In Germany, the AfD is the third largest party in terms of electoral share.

Democracies are not renewing themselves, as the protesters of 2010 and 2011 hoped, but rather collapsing one after the other. Authoritarianism and closure (first and foremost of minds and souls) seem ever stronger.

Today we are no longer talking about 1848 or 1968. Today we speak, with a heavy heart, about a decline in civil liberties and a new intolerant spirit that takes over the world.